The long, winding and convoluted road to sustainable growth is likely to remain the norm. Domestic and international challenges have presented a smorgasbord of obstacles that we are still working to overcome in our many efforts to boost the economy.
In light of the extraordinary economic tempests of the past few years, we as public officials responsible for policymaking and execution must not fold our arms, sit on our hands or thrash our arms about in despair, but rather work urgently and harder than ever to expand the tourism industry and realise our ambition of gaining 21 million annual tourist arrivals in South Africa by 2030.
The tourism industry is now our focus as we work to steer clear of the threats we saw in 2020 and 2021. We have a massive undertaking ahead of us, and we must now move with all haste to put into effect the policies and sector-specific strategic and operational plans that we have developed. I urge all relevant parties to collaborate in order to achieve our goals and expand the tourism industry to its full potential.
Because the assets at the core of our tourism offering are the shared heritage of our people, and our trading stock in the sector is the inimitable signature of warm, ubuntu-infused South African hospitality, it is crucial that we constantly give an account of our strategies as they unfold.
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As I write, South Africa is getting ready to host the travel and tourism sector of Africa and the globe at Africa’s Travel Indaba in Durban from 9 to 11 May. Our research indicates that more than 40% of the 5.7 million international tourists who visited South Africa between January and December 2022 originated from other African countries.
In light of this, we are pleased to announce a truly pan-African travel and tourism trade exhibition that draws the industry’s policy agenda setters, decision-makers, tourism innovators and destination marketing specialists looking to expand Africa’s access to new markets. Global tourism industry executives and innovators are expected to attend the indaba.
The indaba’s Business Opportunity Networking Day (BONDay), hosted a day before the official trade show kicks off, creates a platform for Africa’s enterprising tourism businesses of different sizes to convert their encounters at the trade show into signed contracts and lasting partnerships.
International trade fairs like Africa’s Travel Indaba also serve as something of a boardroom function. The simultaneous convening of senior representatives of governments from around the world, tourism destination-marketing agencies of different countries, sectoral business chambers and even envoys of international organisations means that the indaba provides the opportunity to strike impactful, lasting partnerships and sign collaboration contracts.
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Needless to say, because the international tourism marketplace is cut-throat competitive, trade shows also provide the opportunity to get an overview of the industry globally, while sizing up our competition and drawing inspiration from the latest innovations and thought leadership exchanged at these platforms.
Importantly, we have also used these trade shows to give various SMMEs market access, thereby allowing some global marketing exposure. At this year’s indaba the Department of Tourism will be funding 120 SMMEs to showcase their products and offerings to the many delegates and buyers from across the continent and the world.
Already in the past year, as part of our continued efforts to contribute to growing our tourism sector, we have attended a combination of trade shows both here on the African continent and in various other parts of the world.
Over and above our participation at these shows, we know that hitting the ambitious targets we’ve set ourselves will take diligent adherence to the execution of our strategies.
Whether the tasks at hand are traditional high-impact marketing campaigns, positioning our country as the destination of choice for international business gatherings, or the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sector, we are indeed putting our best foot forward on the global stage.
I invite everyone to join us on this mission and help us promote South Africa to the world for the sake of growing our economy and creating more jobs in this sector. DM